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Anxiety, Stress & Coping
April 25, 2023
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Navigating Your Quarter-Life Crisis Like a Pro

“I feel so lost. It’s like everyone is moving forward and they all know what they want to do. But I’m stuck somewhere and don’t know what to do about my life.”

“I wake up every day with a lot of pressure from everyone around me, parents, peers, colleagues, friends, etc. I feel like I need to meet all their expectations, but I can't.”

“My life was shattered and I really didn't know where I was supposed to turn."

Have you ever felt this way before? If yes, then you may be going through a quarter-life crisis.

What is a quarter-life crisis?

A quarter-life crisis refers to the anxiety, confusion, insecurity, and fear experienced by individuals during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This stage typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 30, during which individuals must confront changes in identity, environment, and various life challenges they have never encountered before.

Why do we have a quarter-life crisis?  

Life transitions and loss of our support system:

Graduating from school, leaving behind loved ones, relocating to a new place, or starting a new job can all trigger feelings of anxiety and frustration as we are losing our support system. These transitions can bring about significant changes in our life roles, identities, environments, and social circles, all of which can compound our discomfort during this period of adjustment.

Making money by ourselves:

As we get older, it’s not uncommon for loved ones to stop supporting us financially in ways they did while we were younger. As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to manage finances on your own to pay rent, mortgages, and living expenses, while simultaneously saving money for things like getting married or having children of our own.

New rules:

During our time at school, we have usually been told what to do and what not to do. We can get nothing more than two results, pass the exam, and fail the exam. But social rules are completely different from school rules. These cannot be learned in school, and often violate some morality. Young adults who have just stepped into society need to explore and adapt to these new rules by themselves.

Peer pressure:

You are feeling behind because other peers are getting married, buying houses, travelling around the world, starting new careers, etc. You feel too much pressure from others as you lose direction about your career, relationships, or the true life you want.

How to work through a quarter-life crisis

  1. Identify your stressors: Pay attention to your emotions and try to understand where they're coming from. Is it due to personal identity issues, relationships, career goals, or adapting to a new environment? Identifying the root cause of your stress is the first step toward finding a solution.
  2. Practice self-care: Be patient with yourself and understand that this is a phase everyone goes through at some point in life. Treat yourself kindly, and take good care of your physical and mental health.
  3. Make a plan: Start thinking about the life you want to live in the next 10 or 20 years and who you want to become. This will give you a rough idea of what you need to do to achieve your goals. However, don't rush into making decisions if you don't have a clear idea of what you want to do. Take your time and explore different options.
  4.  Seek support: If you're feeling lost and confused, others have likely gone through the same thing. Talk to your family members, older colleagues, professors, or friends about their experiences and how they overcame their quarter-life crisis. Having a support system can make a big difference.

A quarter-life crisis can be a challenging and confusing time for young adults, but it's important to remember that it's a common experience. Understanding the root cause of your stress, practicing self-care, making a plan, and seeking support are all valuable steps you can take to navigate this transitional period with confidence. Remember, it's okay to take your time and explore different options as you figure out the life you want to lead. You've got this!

This article was written by Jena Zhou during their time at Shift Collab.

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